This is the second part of a two-part series, Seven Things that Tennis has Taught Me About Dating.
Dating and Tennis #4: In dating and tennis, grace and dignity go a long way.
Dating can be frustrating as well as rewarding. In trying times it may be tempting to tell him off or to lash out, but it pays to behave with grace and dignity. If anything, you can always be proud of the way you handled yourself. Besides, it gives the person you’re dating less ammunition to use against you in the future.
In contrast to Serena Williams, Australian tennis star Patrick Rafter was always courteous to his opponents. In 2001, Rafter lost a heart-wrenching five-set Wimbledon final against Goran Ivanisevic. Rafter was at the end of his tennis career and was hoping for a Wimbledon title to end on a high note. To come so close only to fall short must have been so disappointing. Yet he was a gentleman to the end. Rafter hugged his opponent and said “well done, mate.” During interviews he was so congenial that no one perceived him as a loser. With a U.S. Open title and a consistent top 10 tennis ranking, Rafter had plenty to be proud of, even without a Wimbledon tennis trophy.
Dating and Tennis #3: If something goes wrong, it doesn’t mean that anything was wrong with you.
If dating isn’t going well, or if someone doesn’t treat you right, there may be the tendency to blame yourself or to think that you were somehow not good enough. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Maybe the person you’re dating was having a family problem or dealing with a stressful situation, and you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever the reasons, it may have had nothing to do with you. If the person you’re dating behaves in a way that you don’t like, all you can do is keep living your life and taking it as it comes.
No one could blame tennis star Monica Seles for the unfortunate incident in 1994. Ranked number one in the world, the bubbly and tenacious Seles looked forward to a bright tennis career. But Gunter Partsch, a crazed Steffi Graf fan, had other ideas when he stabbed Seles with a kitchen knife. Although she spent more than two years out of commission for such an undeserved assault, Seles maintained a positive attitude and fighting spirit. When she returned to tennis in 1997, she was able to reach the finals at the U.S. Open.
Dating and Tennis #2: In dating, sometimes it pays to walk away early, and to leave on a high note.
Many people believe that dating involves blood, sweat, and tears. While discussion and compromise are important in dating, there’s no reason to continue dating when it isn’t working. Many people think they can save an ailing relationship by forcing it or dragging it out. But there is nothing wrong with walking away on a high note. By quitting early, you give yourself and the person you’re dating a clean slate and a fresh start. If you are still in the early stages of dating, you may even be able to salvage a friendship.
In the 1990s, Japanese tennis star Kimiko Date was consistently ranked in the top ten. When she retired, she was ranked fifth in the world. By leaving on a high note, her fans were able to see her at her best to the very end. Nothing is more heart-breaking than watching a former tennis great succumb to injuries, age, and wear and tear. At the end of his tennis career, former number one Andre Agassi struggled to keep up with a new crop of youngsters in tennis. At age 36, Agassi barely fought his way to the third round of the U.S. Open before losing to Benjamin Becker.
Dating and Tennis #1: In dating or tennis, things have a way of working out when you least expect it.
Life has a funny way of working, especially in dating. When you’d like to be dating, nobody comes along. Yet when you’re not looking, you end up attracting more dates than you can handle! As Lennon sang, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” If you keep living your life in the best way, things work out when you least expect it.
In 2001, everyone had written off ailing tennis star Goran Ivanisevic. Ranked #125 in the world, Ivanisevic needed a wild card just to compete at Wimbledon. As an unseeded player, he was given a much tougher draw in the tournament. With a history of choking during matches and having a bit of a temper, commentators had dismissed his chances. After years of reaching the finals, Ivanisevic seemed destined to become the best tennis player to never win, but he surprised everyone by become the lowest ranked player to ever win Wimbledon. Ivanisevic’s heart and his big serve finally paid off when he least expected it, earning him the most coveted title in tennis.